Can’t Insert New Cells Excel Error? Do This!

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Written By Chris

Just a simple "data guy". Changing the world one formula at a time.

Hey, data people! Have you found yourself to be an unexpected victim of this annoying Microsoft Excel error?

excel error

Well, the solution is fairly simple!

If you’re trying to insert a new cell and get a pop-up that states ‘Microsoft Excel can’t insert new cells because it would push non-empty cells off the end of the worksheet’, you can fix the problem by clearing the contents at the end of your worksheet.

But what exactly does that mean? Maybe you only have a few columns in your sheet. Why would you have to clear the far reaches of your unused space?

What Does the ‘Can’t Insert New Cells’ Error Mean?

As my above solution alludes to, this error indicates that you have some value or format at the bottom or far right of your Excel worksheet. And Microsoft Excel won’t let you insert a new cell which would ultimately push its contents outside of its borders.

Now, Excel gives you a ton of columns and rows to work with, so in what world could you possibly have a file with something located at the very end? Well, it depends. The most likely culprit of your excess data is related to some custom formatting. Perhaps you got a little overzealous in applying borders around your cells?

too much custom format

However, there may be some metadata inserted from a downloaded file, or an accidental blank space left behind after wholesale changes. Regardless of the reason, and whether or not you can actually see it, simply clear those contents out and you’ll be free to insert your new cells.

Clearing Contents to Insert New Cells in Excel

Just in case you need a refresher on clearing out your unwanted cells, here’s a quick demo you can follow.

1. Select all the cells outside of your desired data

You can do this by selecting the column letter of your first blank cell reference, then pressing CTRL + SHIFT + Right Arrow. This will highlight all the columns to the right of your data.

select first blank column

2. Clear or Delete your Selection of Cells

You do have the option of deleting these unused cells by right-clicking the mouse and selecting ‘Delete’. Or you can easily clear all their contents, including formatting, by navigating to the ribbon under the Home tab, opening the drop-down menu for ‘Clear’, and selecting ‘Clear All’.

clear all contents to insert cells

I would repeat this process for anything below your intended data as well. To highlight those cells, select the first empty cell in column A, then press CTRL + SHIFT + Down Arrow, followed by the CTRL + SHIFT + Right Arrow.

With the outside ranges of your worksheet reset to their default status, you’ll now be able to insert all the cells you wish! At least, within reason. :)

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